General Information

Status: Part of United Kingdom

First Minister: Jack McConnell (2001)

Land area: 30,414 sq mi (78,772 sq km)

Population (1996 est.): 5,128,000; density per sq mi: 168.6

Capital (2003 est.): Edinburgh, 663,700 (metro. area), 460,000 (city proper)

Largest city: Glasgow, 1,361,000 (metro. area), 1,099,400 (city proper)

Monetary unit: British pound sterling (£)

Languages: English, Scots Gaelic

Religions: Church of Scotland (established church—Presbyterian), Roman Catholic, Scottish Episcopal Church, Baptist, Methodist

Scotland occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It is bounded by England in the south and on the other three sides by water: by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and north and by the North Sea on the east. Scotland is divided into three physical regions—the Highlands; the Central Lowlands, containing two-thirds of the population; and the Southern Uplands. The western Highland coast is intersected throughout by long, narrow sea lochs, or fjords. Scotland also includes the Outer and Inner Hebrides and other islands off the west coast and the Orkney and Shetland Islands off the north coast.

England and Scotland have shared a monarch since 1603 and a parliament since 1707, but in May 1999, Scotland elected its own parliament for the first time in three centuries. The new Scottish legislature was in part the result of British prime minister Tony Blair's campaign promise to permit devolution, the transfer of local powers from London to Edinburgh. In a Sept. 1997 referendum, 74% of Scotland voted in favor of their own parliament, which controls most domestic affairs, including health, education, and transportation, and has powers to legislate and raise taxes. Queen Elizabeth opened the new parliament on July 2, 1999.

The first inhabitants of Scotland were the Picts, a Celtic tribe. Between A.D. 82 and A.D. 208, the Romans invaded Scotland, naming it Caledonia. Roman influence over the land, however, was minimal.

The Scots, a Celtic tribe from Ireland, migrated to the west coast of Scotland in about 500. Kenneth McAlpin, king of the Scots, ascended the throne of the Pictish kingdom in about 843, thereby uniting the various Scots and Pictish tribes under one kingdom called Dal Riada. By the 11th century, the monarchy had extended its borders to include much of what is Scotland today.

English influence in the region expanded when Malcolm III, king of Scotland from 1057–1093, married an English princess. England's appetite for Scottish land began to grow over the 12th and 13th centuries, and in 1296 King Edward I of England successfully invaded Scotland. The following year Robert the Bruce led a revolt for independence, was crowned king of Scotland (Robert I) in 1306, and after years of war defeated the English in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn. In 1328 the English finally recognized Scottish independence.

In the 16th century John Knox introduced the Scottish reformation, and the Presbyterian Church replaced Catholicism as the official religion. In 1567, Mary, queen of Scots, a Catholic, was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne and was later executed by Elizabeth I of England. Mary's son, James VI, was raised as a Protestant, and in 1603 he succeeded Elizabeth on the English throne as King James I of England. James thus became ruler of both Scotland and England, though the countries remained separate. In 1707, after a century of turmoil, Scotland and England passed the Act of Union, which united Scotland, England, and Wales under one rule as the Kingdom of Great Britain. The House of Hanover replaced the Stuart lineage on the throne in 1714, which caused a rebellion among Scots who still supported the Stuarts. The Jacobites, as the rebels were called, led two uprisings, in 1715 and again in 1745.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Scotland, whose chief product had been textiles, began developing the industries of shipbuilding, coal mining, iron, and steel. In the late 20th century, Scotland concentrated on electronics and high-tech industries. The North Sea has also become an important source of oil and gas.

Islamic History and Muslims

The arrival of Islam in Scotland is relatively recent. The bulk of Muslims in Scotland come from families who immigrated during the late 20th century. In Scotland Muslims represent 0.84% of the population (42,557), with 20,000 in Glasgow and are the largest non-Christian group, other than atheists and agnostics.

Traditionally, many Scottish Muslims have ties to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, although there are increasing numbers of converts and from the Arab world.

The first Muslim student in Scotland was Wazir Beg from Bombay (now "Mumbai"). He is recorded as being a medical student who studied at the University of Edinburgh between 1858-59.

The production of goods and Glasgow's busy port meant that many lascars were employed there. Dundee was at the peak of importing jute; hence, sailors from Bengal were a feature at the port. Records from the Glasgow Sailors' Home show that, in 1903, nearly a third (5,500) of all boarders were Muslim lascars.



Edinburgh Central Mosque is located on Potterrow near the University of Edinburgh central area and the National Museum of Scotland. The mosque and Islamic centre was designed by Basil Al-Bayati, and took more than six years to complete at a cost of £3.5m. The main hall can hold over one thousand worshippers, with women praying on a balcony overlooking the hall. The mosque holds chandeliers and a vast carpet, with very little furniture.


Glasgow Central Mosque is located on the south bank of the River Clyde in central Glasgow, the mosque was built in 1983 and was formally opened in 1984 by H E. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League. Built on a four-acre site, the present Mosque is shortly to be enhanced by the new Islamic Centre to be erected on an adjacent four-acre site. The new Islamic Centre will contain a general purpose hall, sports and changing facilities, meeting rooms, library. cafeteria and facilities which will offer educational and sociological guidance to the community at a large.

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

The Scottish-Islamic Foundation, 5 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AH Email:,  URL:

   Muslim Owned Business

Islam in Scotland  ( , November, 2008).
Info please ( ,  November, 2008).
Islam Finder (  , November, 2008).
World Religions Statistics ( , November, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Scotland , November 2008.